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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Drinking Lots of Soda Boosts Kidney Disease Risk

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I read an interesting study today published in PLoS ONE, a journal published by the Public Library of Science. The study found that women who drink two or more cans of soda per day are nearly twice as likely to show early signs of kidney disease as women who do not drink soda. This applied only to women, not men, and only to regular soda, not diet.

Why? The researchers aren't sure. They think there may be an underlying cause that links soda consumption and kidney damage. They found this relationship by looking at dietary habits and also measuring albumin in the urine of men and women. They found that the women drinking two or more regular sodas per day were 1.86 times more likely to have excess albumin in the urine, a sign of early kidney damage.

We have definitely seen an increase in kidney disease in the US with 26 million American adults with chronic kidney disease. Diabetes and obesity have increased as well. Our intake of high fructose corn syrup, the major sweetener in soda, has also skyrocketed in recent years.

The researchers in this study did say that people consume too much sugar, and that it is not necessarily high fructose corn syrup alone that is the problem. But at the same time, the journal Environmental Health reported that 9 of 20 commercial samples of high fructose corn syrup from three major manufacturers contained detectable levels of mercury. Mercury is harmful to kidneys as well. It is under debate whether that study was well designed and conducted.

The strength of the correlation between regular soda consumption and kidney disease cannot be determined by this one study. However, I will be looking at future studies to see if they find the same thing. Even if ends up not being a strong correlation, I can think of other reasons to avoid or limit regular soda.

Did you know that a 20-ounce regular soda has 69 grams of sugar which is equivalent to 17 teaspoons of sugar? A serving of Frosted Flakes cereal only has 11 grams and 3 teaspoons. And regular soda is a true definition of empty calorie with no nutritional value. Oh, and by the way, other sweetened beverages like fruit drinks (not 100% fruit juice), sweetened tea, and sweetened flavored waters are not going to be better, especially if high fructose corn syrup ends up truly being the culprit. Just think, "liquid sugar!"

For more on what the Corn Refiners Association says about High Fructose Corn Syrup, click here.
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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